Three Cheers for Indie Authors

On Saturday, I attended the North Texas Book Festival for the second year in a row, and it was even more fun this year than it was last year.  I had several friends there and I was privileged to make the acquaintance of even more wonderful readers and writers.

I may have come home with one or two new books…

Hey, it’s networking.

Currently, I’m in the middle of reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  I loved the movie, so I’ve really been looking forward to reading the book.  The thing is, however, I’m so, so, so excited to start reading all my new books that I got on Saturday that I’m finding myself kind of speed-reading through Still Alice in order to get to my new ones.  There’s something so special and remarkable about reading books that have been produced and published by the author themselves, especially authors you’ve met in person and who’ve shared their personal stories and experiences.  The best way to get to know an author is to read their book.  And I can’t wait to dive in.

I know I’m also an independent author, so what I’m about write may sound a bit self-congratulatory and egotistical, but I am so proud of the work I’ve done, and I’m so proud of my colleagues for their dedication and passion.  There’s this stigma that independent publishing is the “easy way out.”  Let me tell you now, there is nothing easy about taking matters into your own hands and learning skills that you never thought you would need practically overnight.  Independent publishing is real work, work that I would never have even considered if I didn’t truly believe that my books were worth sharing.  This is why I say three cheers for all my fellow indie authors.  You do not believe in limitations.  You will not accept no for an answer.  You conquered your own mountains, you made your own dreams come true.  I am so honored to be in your company.  And I can’t wait to read your books.

Advertisements

Indie Books and POGs

Last night, I found my old POG collection.  If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you also collected the little round pieces of cardboard that were apparently meant to be a game but really ended up just being shiny little circles we accumulated and hoarded like Smaug’s treasure in The Hobbit.

As I was looking through my old POGs, I noticed one had a ghost on it.  I thought, “Oh, that’s cute.  I should take a picture of it with Cemetery Tours.”

12814095_10207560977676191_1903108702222945380_n

So I did.

But I didn’t stop there.

Slowly but surely, my little idea to take a picture with the ghost POG became a full fledged POG and indie book photo shoot.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken pictures of several (not all) of the indie books I own.  I have a whole photo album that I’ve dedicated to the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement on my Facebook page.

#IndieBooksBeSeen

There is a rhyme and reason to my madness.  Despite the fact that we call ourselves “Independent” authors, the truth is we are very much a community.  No one works alone.  We have editors and graphic designers and reviewers and marketing experts.  And we have each other.  As independent authors, we support each other 100%.  That’s one of the first things I learned about the community and one of my very favorite parts of being an independent author.  I never expected the warm reception or astounding support system when I first published Cemetery Tours, but it’s there.  And it’s so, so, so amazing.

There are several ways that authors support each other.  I have friends who Tweet and Retweet.  I have friends who share dozens of Facebook posts.  I have friends who review every book they read.  Me?  I definitely try to review at least every indie book I read.  But I like to take pictures.  It’s my favorite method of communication.  Funny, for a writer, I know.  But there’s a certain love to a beautiful image that words really can’t express.

I take pictures because these books need more exposure.  I want each and every one of these authors to know the same kind of love and praise and success that their traditionally published counterparts experience.  I want them to be interviewed and reviewed by Entertainment Weekly and fly to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List.  I want independent books to become mainstream.  And I think they are well on their way.

 

 

World Book Day

I haven’t been very good about blogging recently, but I simply had to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy World Book Day!

12688243_10207379112449674_3010555861347447190_n

I don’t think I even need to tell y’all that I love books.  I love to read.  I love to spend hours at a time perusing my local bookstore for new titles, new adventures.  Becoming an author has only deepened my appreciation for the written word, and for all the hard work that goes into transforming a story into a book.

Just a few short years ago, writing and publishing a book was a pipe dream for many.  It was reserved only for the chosen few, the traditionally published elite.  Big companies and corporations decided whether or not your work was worthy of publication.  Those companies do good work.  Most of my favorite books are traditionally published.

But times are changing.  There is a real movement to take the independently published novel mainstream.  And of course, as an independent author, I’m all for this.  Indie books are real books.  Independent authors are real authors.  They’re more than authors.  They’re also publishers and designers and marketers and editors and formatters.  I’m almost inclined to say that you have to be at least a little crazy to be an independent author, because who would willingly do all of this work for a pay-off that isn’t guaranteed?

Well, we would.  And I do believe it’s worth it.

So today, when you celebrate World Book Day, I challenge you to read a book by a lesser known author.  Take a picture of an indie book.  Leave a review on Amazon or on Goodreads.  You may not believe it, but every little bit helps.  Every sale, every post, every review, is a step towards taking this very noble and worthwhile industry to the masses.  Readers make everything possible.  And we, the authors, will never be able to thank you enough.

Guest Interview With Miracle Austin!

Today is Valentine’s Day.  It’s a day for love, for flowers, for chocolate, and… for revenge.

Okay, probably not so much that last one, but isn’t revenge so much more fun than the mushy stuff?  At least in the fictional world?

On this day, Valentine’s Day, it is my sincerest pleasure to welcome my friend and fellow author, Miracle Austin, to my blog!  After being featured in several horror anthologies, Miracle is celebrating the release of her first full-length novel, DOLL.

41GPn+Gw-HL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

I read this book in one sitting, and you can find my reviews on GoodReads.com AND Amazon.com.  For now, however, please enjoy my interview with

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 2.27.21 PM

Jacqueline Smith: First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself:

Miracle Austin: I work in the social work world by day and the writer’s world at night and weekends. I’m a YA/NA Cross-Genre author; adults also enjoy my works.

I’ve been writing ever since first hearing Drive by The Cars in junior high, which has been one of her biggest inspirations. I rediscovered my writing passion, recently. My first mini-story, PENS, appeared in http://www.leaves-of-ink.com.

Horror/suspense are my favorite genres, but not limited to. I enjoy writing diverse flashes, short stories, and longer works, while threading various social awareness themes into my stories, at times.

Doll will be my first debut YA/NA Paranormal novel, which will be released on CreateSpace and Amazon on 2-14-16—available both in paperback and ebook.

Boundless will be my second debut work, which will be a YA/NA eclectic short story collection; it will release in the summer.

I’m currently working on future works and reside in Texas with my family.

JS: How did you get into writing?

MA: I started writing in the sixth grade, mostly free-verse poems, and writing out lyrics of my favorite songs, usually love songs, in a notebook.

I did write my first short story about a 13-year-old boy. His name was Jobie. Jobie was spending his last summer with his best friend, kissing a girl for the first time, and coping with his untimely death.

I hand wrote that story and don’t recall the title. I thought I kept it, but I must have thrown it away years ago, accidentally. I still think of the character, Jobie, time from time.

As high school approached, my writing was stop and go. An English teacher shared a writing assignment, and I really enjoyed that assignment. However, distractions popped up, as usual.

I wrote off and on in college. I really enjoyed my English, sociology, and children’s literature classes because I always had writing assignments in.

Later on in my adult life, I experienced a very dark time and found myself almost lost there.

I stumbled upon a private writing group with diverse writing prompts.

I started submitting and discovered something—how much I really loved writing.  In fact, writing, this time around, actually saved me… I found a ladder and began to climb out of my darkness.

A reviewer on the writing group commented me on my writing and suggested I should start to submit to magazines, ezines, anthologies, and etc.

I was hesitant, but I decided to give it a try, after a few months. I submitted and received so many rejections. I almost gave up, until that one day, I had a message waiting in my email box, where my first mini-story was accepted.

My confidence began to blossom. I continued to submit and receive more rejections than acceptances. The rejections made me stronger and the rest is herstory.

JS: What is your favorite book? Or if you can’t pick just one (I know I can’t), top three?

MA: I’m going to list more than three.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Carrie  by Stephen King

To Kill a Mocking Bird  by Harper Lee

“The Man Who Loved Flowers” Short Story by  Stephen King

“The Last Rung”  Short Story by Stephen King

JS: Tell me about your new book, Doll.

MA: Doll is a YA/NA paranormal novel. Doll was never suppose to be a novel, only a short story for adults. I started writing it to distract me from the postponed publishing of my first collection, Boundless.

Doll transformed. It started out as 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 12,000, 15,000, 18,000, 20,000, 25,000, 30,000, 45,000, and then over 52,000 words.

The characters took over and Doll was created.

Doll is a story about a mean girl who torments three outcasts, one in particular.

The three outcasts decide to band together in an untraditional way to give the mean girl a taste of her own medicine.  However, things don’t always turn out the way wish, so be careful what you wish for

JS: How did you come up with the idea?

MA: My mom, who has shared other ideas with me for other stories and future ones, told me a story about something that happened years ago with a friend. I absorbed all the information and created my characters.

I recall a publisher, several months ago, sharing how Boundless was geared more towards YA/NA crowd, plus I love the YA/NA world, so I changed my main adult characters to teens.

JS: What was the writing process like?

MA: This is interesting one.

I procrastinated with this one. Believe it or not, I had about one paragraph for the concept, which changed a lot. I even had the cover made before I had one full page written. The cover did inspire me.

I knew that I needed to complete it after I avoided writing for several weeks because I didn’t know where I was going with this story, even though I had the concept down and cover. I just was  so unmotivated.

Therefore, I decided to do something that I never had before—outline.  I’ve read about others completing outlines, but I’ve always been a free bird and didn’t want to restrict myself.

I came to realize that was the best thing I could have ever done without restrictions. The outline ushered me through my writing and kept me focused.

So, I’m now an outline advocate, never would have imagined.

JS: You are also featured in horror anthologies such as Luna’s Children and A Shadow of Autumn.  What inspires you?

MA: Again, I must give my mom credit for many of my current and future stories. She’s my inspiration. She’s always sharing stories about her youth from the 50s and her adulthood. I usually take something from her stories and twist it up to make it my own.

Furthermore, my other inspirations come from conversations (protected of course),  people watching, songs, movies, or something that I’ve read in a book, magazine, Facebook, newspaper, and so on.

JS: What draws you to this genre?

MA: My exposure to horror/suspense arenas occurred prior my middle school years. My mom used to listen to an AM radio station on Friday nights, cannot recall the station, but it would have pre-recorded creepy stories.

I was sold instantly and couldn’t wait until the next airing. Horror/suspense just meshed with me from my first dance with it. I craved it, minus the horror that deals with possession.

JS: Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

MA: I sure am. I am cleaning up Boundless, an eclectic collection of shorts, which was supposed to be published by now. However, I’m a big believer in how certain things must occur before something else, which is why Boundless was postponed.

I still don’t understand it completely, but I accept Doll being released first.

I’m enhancing Boundless and then all the edit rounds.

I’m waiting to see how Doll is received from readers.

I do have a sequel mini outline for Doll 2 already, not sure if it will evolve yet.

I have another story  (20,000 words so far) that’s been on back burner for almost two years called, LoneStar Unordinary Girl. It’s a mash-up of comedy/supernatural elements. A reviewer challenged me to add comedy to a piece and I came up with that one.

Finally, I love writing shorts all the time. I have one that I have been wanting to write called Nightrunners. I plan to soon.

I am currently working on a monster piece for consideration in Sirens Call, a fabulous ezine.

Sine I mentioned Sirens Call, I wanted to share that I’ll be featured with many other amazing women authors in their Women in Horror Month 2016 upcoming issue. My piece is called “The Lock.”

JS: What are your favorite pastimes, other than writing?

MA: I love attending  all types of movies (Marvel/DC Fangirl, by the way) and watching  Netflix.

I enjoy creating playlists that inspire some of my stories and enjoy attending diverse book festivals and comic cons, where I’ve been so honored to be one of the panelists on some.

I’ll be a featured author and a panelist at the upcoming Teen Book Fest by the Bay in Corpus Christie, Texas on 2-20-16. I’m so honored and excited to be part of. This will be my first teen book festival.

The highlights of attending the above functions include opportunities to hang out with great author friends and meet new authors/readers.

I also enjoy collaborating with my amazing colleagues on YAAR (Young Adult Author Rendezvous) , an author group, on Facebook. I’ve learned a lot from some amazing authors and the founder, Patrick Hodges. They have all been so helpful in various ways.

JS: Finally, where can read readers connect with you?

MA: Feel free to contact me anytime and follow me on all the social media outlets.

I enjoy communicating with her readers.

http://www.miracleaustin.com

Email: shadesoffiction@miracleaustin.com

FaceBook: Miracle Austin Author

Twitter: @MiracleAustin7

InstaGram: MiracleAustin7

*BONUS SOUNDTRACK*

Songs that inspired DOLL

#1 You look beautiful tonight-Frank Sinatra

#2 One way or another-Blondie

# 3 Rock with you-Michael Jackson

#4 Every Breath You Take-Chase Holfelder

#5 One Way or Another—Until the ribbon breaks

# 6 Ready to love you forever-Tevin Campbell

#7 I want you to want me-Cheap Trick

#8 Leave-Jo Jo

#9 Count me Out-New Edition

#10 You Belong to me-Taylor Swift

#11 Rich Girl-Hall and Oates

#12 Make me wanna-Thomas Rhett

#13 Going to love you like I’m going to loose you–John Legend and Megan Trainor

#14 Jack and Diane-John Cougar

#15 Kissing Game- Hi-5

#16 Naughty Girl-Beyoncé

#17-All of me-Luciana Zogbi—(cover)

#18-You can do Magic-America

#19-Oh no-Lionel Richie

#21-Bad blood-Taylor Swift

#22-Tender Roni-Bobby Brown

#23-If it isn’t Love-New Edition

#24-Walking after Midnight-Patsy Cline

#25-Blue-Leanne Rimes

#26-Alone-Heart

#27-My baby doll-Toni, Toni, Tone

#28-She’s like the wind-Patrick Swayze

#29My Girl-Temptations

#30-Creep-Radiohead

#31-Everybody Hurts Sometimes-REM

#32-People are People-Depeche Mode

#33-Shake it off-Taylor Swift

#34-Wanna be starting something-Michael Jackson

#35-Walking in my shoes-Depeche Mode

#36-Treasure-Bruno Mars

#37-When I’m with you-Tony Terry

#38-Give Love a bad name-Bon Jovi

#39-We’re not going to take it-Twisted Sister

#40-Waiting for a girl like you-Foreigner

#41-Girl Crush-Little Big Town

#42-I need to know-Marc Anthony

#43-How do you mend a broken heart-Al Green

#44-Unpretty-TLC

#45-Try a little Tenderness-Otis Redding

#46-what about your friends-TLC

#47-All of me-Damien Escobar

#48-With You-Chris Brown

 

You can find DOLL by Miracle Austin here!

21

Today, my little sister turns 21.  I could very well make this a sentimental post about how she’s my best friend in the world and how she’s crossing a major milestone and how I’m so thankful to have her in my life, and all of that would be very, very true.  I don’t know where I’d be without her.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 3.50.16 PM

In honor of her birthday, I decided to release my new book, Backstage, the sequel to Boy Band, a day early on Kindle.  I did this, in part, because she loves the first book so much.  We’re both big boy band fans in real life, and she was the one who really pushed me to finish the first book and to publish it.  She enjoyed Cemetery Tours also, but not like Boy Band.

That being said, I hope you all enjoy the second book!  I did my best not to end it on as BIG a cliffhanger as the first one, but rest assured there is a third one in the works!  Sam and Mel’s story isn’t quite finished yet!

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 3.47.23 PM

Love you all!

Backstage on Kindle

 

December Tidings

Hello, friends!

Oh my goodness, it feels like it’s been a while since I last posted.  Probably because it has been.  This has been quite a week though, let me tell you!

First of all, I hope all my American friends had a splendid Thanksgiving full of good food and good times spent with family and friends.  My Thanksgiving was pretty excellent, although as soon as I got home from our friends’ house, my throat began to hurt and I spent the next three days on the couch with The Crud that’s going around.  Thanks, Dad.  Fortunately, I didn’t get it nearly as bad as he did.

In much more exciting news, IT IS FINALLY DECEMBER!  It’s time for snowflakes and hot chocolate and Christmas lights and movie nights by the fire and all those wonderful winter things!  Now of course, once Christmas is over, I won’t be nearly as excited about the cold, but for the next 25 days, bring on the winter chill!

Even though it’s only the first day of December, it’s already turning out to be an incredibly busy month.  I’m giving a talk tonight at a local library about NaNoWriMo and what to do after you’ve finished your manuscript.  If I can figure out how to post the Power Point presentation here, I will.

I’m also giving another talk at another library NEXT week, but I need to check in and make sure everything is still on schedule for that!

Also… BACKSTAGE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN EXACTLY ONE WEEK!  I’m so excited for y’all to read it.  I would post the first chapter here, but it contains MAJOR spoilers for the first book, so I’m afraid y’all are just going to have to wait a week!  You can, however, enter to win a signed copy of BOTH BOOKS on GoodReads.

Once Backstage is released, I’m going to take some time just to enjoy the holidays, spend time with family and friends.  But I’m also going to be investigating a few new publishing platforms as well as a few new projects.  Oh, and I’m also going to be catching up on a LOT of reading.  My goodness, I am so behind.

Happy December, everyone!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

(Except for, you know, when it’s warm and sunny).

 

Backstage Soundtrack

With a little less than a month until Backstage is released, I figure it’s about time to share the soundtrack that helped inspire it!  Every time I come up with a new idea for a book, one of the first things I do is make a playlist of music to listen to that serves as a soundtrack that I listen to while the book plays out in my head.

You can find the Soundtrack to Boy Band here.

Note: I do not own any of these songs, nor am I profiting from them in any way.

  1. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
  2. “Little White Lies” by One Direction
  3. “Roller Coaster” by Bleachers
  4. “Ordinary Day” by Vanessa Carlton
  5. “Something Great” by One Direction
  6. “Good Girls” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  7. “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
  8. “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran
  9. “Manhattan From the Sky” by Kate Voegele
  10. “Drag Me Down” by One Direction
  11. “Headphones” by Matt Nathanson
  12. “Disconnected” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  13. “Perfect” by One Direction

Backstage will be available on December 8!  Make sure to enter my GoodReads Giveaway for a chance to win signed copies of BOTH Backstage and Boy Band!

GIVEAWAY!

NaNoWriMo 2015

We’re five days into National Novel Writing Month and I’ve got a confession to make:  I haven’t been keeping up with it very well.  I’ve written a little bit and brainstormed a lot, but I’m nowhere near where I should be in the grand scheme of NaNoWriMo.  There are a few reasons (or excuses) for that.

First of all, I spent a long weekend in Houston and didn’t return until Monday afternoon.  At that point, I was exhausted and had a lot of unpacking and pictures to go through.

Second, with only a little more than a month before Backstage is released, I’m devoting most of my time and energy into making sure it’s ready to go by December 8.  Those of you who’ve published your own books know that that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else.

Finally, I’ve been having a difficult time figuring out how I wanted to begin my NaNo book.  I think I may have figured it out last night, but I’m still not 100% sure.  Sometimes, you can’t force it.  You just have to let the words come naturally.

I am, however, SO excited to see so many of my friends and colleagues and total strangers participating in NaNoWriMo this year!  It’s a fantastic way to get people writing and to get some fantastic new books out there.  It’s also proof to me that the written word is thriving.  There are so many rumors and reports and literacy and society’s love of reading being on the decline, but even if they’re true, there is so much love for NaNoWriMo and so much enthusiasm and excitement for reading and writing new books that I can’t help but feel optimistic about my trade and profession.  I love books so much.  I always have.  And it’s so encouraging to see so many others sharing that love.

NaNoWriMo will always hold a special place in my heart, particularly because it gave me the opportunity to write something new, something that I guarantee I would not have written otherwise.  Boy Band is the book that was not supposed to exist.  And now, here it is, a year later and I’m getting ready to release its sequel.  How cool is that?

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 2.06.12 PM

For those wondering, that little guy in the picture is Simon the NaNo Dragon.  He’s my November writing buddy.

Fellow writers and aspiring authors, enjoy your NaNoWriMo experience.  Write well.  Write what you love.  You never know what may come of it.  And if you get behind (or if you haven’t started on time – oops!), don’t get discouraged.  After all, it took me TWO months to finish Boy Band.  All you need to know is that you can do anything.  And you will.  Just keep writing.

Book Things

Hello, friends.  Well, today I’ve barely made it out of bed.  It’s just one of those icky sick days that kind of knocks you off your feet and punches you in the face.  Needless to say, I have not been very productive at all.  That’s why this post will be pretty short.  In fact, it’s basically just going to be me sharing a few new reviews and book covers.

The Cemetery Tours reviews go something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.16.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.16.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.16.54 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.17.02 PM

Friendly reminder that the Cemetery Tours eBook is only $2.99 on Kindle!

After Death has a few new reviews too, but this one is my favorite:

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.15.17 PM

Finally, a few book cover updates!  First of all, I designed the back cover for Backstage, the highly anticipated sequel to Boy Band:

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.29.34 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.29.49 PM

I also designed a cover to my new NaNoWriMo project.  I’m still not 100% set on the title or on the font, but it’s something!

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 6.41.17 PM

How are you this fine October afternoon?

My Halloween Essentials

Alright people.  It’s October 21.  That means we only have ten days left to celebrate one of the greatest feast days of the year: All Hallow’s Eve.

Halloween has always been a big deal in my family.  What’s not to love?  The pumpkins, the magic, the spooks, the costumes…  I think everyone becomes more of a believer in the things that can’t be explained around this time of year.

That being said, I intend to savor every second I have left of these ten days.  So, without further ado, I present

Jacqueline E. Smith’s Halloween Essentials

  • A trip to the pumpkin patch.

IMG_8527 12122851_10206592692909677_8132374228292792570_n 12074486_10206591759366339_1362730506872938910_n

  • A haunting soundtrack full of classic Halloween hits.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.59.21 PM

  • A Halloween movie marathon. This marathon MUST include at least three separate viewings of Hocus Pocus.

1505994_10204207068470557_7467619425480736648_n

  • Candy Corns and Mellowcreme Pumpkins.
  • Scented candles.

CNhKwvfVAAAaC6t CNhLX_tUsAA1fUi CPe1sJkU8AAULdI

  • Finding your ideal costume.  If you can’t find it, make it!  One year in college when I was particularly broke, I went as The One-Eyed-One-Horned-Flying-Purple-People-Eater and I made my own wings and horn.  I looked a little deranged, but the wings looked AMAZING.

167789_10100122053390922_2651251_n

  • Decorations galore.

COy_gVkVAAA7YRr 10632612_10204236891416112_5213769996503591262_n 10408013_10204236890816097_2748583409370383540_n 10407979_10204236894896199_5447407679077045060_n 1908455_10204207101591385_3964147647105064717_n

  • A unique design for your Jack-O-Lantern.  Now, I’ve been carving my own Jack-O-Lanterns for years, but scraping out all the insides and carving can be a bit tiresome, so it might not be for everyone.  Especially if you don’t like pulp under your nails.

59614_4376265358446_1824621280_n

  • A black light bulb.  When I was little, my mom would ALWAYS light a black light on All Hallow’s Eve.  It’s simply not the Witching Hour without one.

10003458_10204236896056228_9117732833640526836_n

  • A black cat.  Naturally.  Where would I be without my beautiful Witch’s Familiar?

CMoTzKMUkAAkTWu

  • A good ghost story. Of course!  And you can get Cemetery Tours on Kindle for only $2.99 for the remainder of October.

12096221_305041849670803_4988227242966108787_n

11393265_10205752599107857_381549405489836783_n

What are your Halloween Essentials?